Man from Florida Arrested as Suspect in Peters Fraud Ring

A man from Florida was arrested on Monday in Peters Township. He is a suspect in a fraud ring that is reported to have stolen more than $500,000 from Citizens Bank.

Working together, Peters police and postal inspectors arrested Cassio Orville Slowden, age 27, of Pembroke Pines, at about 2 PM. Court records show that the arrest came after officials accused Slowden of stealing mail that contained a personal identification number and a bank card belonging to a customer on Will Scarlett Drive.

Township police charged Slowden with felony counts of conspiring to commit identity theft and identity theft. The conspiracy charges involve an identity theft ring that has been accused of stealing over $545,000 from Citizens Bank since January of last year.

According to police, the ring has been operating in the northeastern United States. It uses its members to call the bank's customer service department and pretend to be customers.

Callers ask that new PIN numbers and banking cards be mailed to them at their homes. Court records show that the callers also sign up for post office notifications so they know when the cards will be delivered, and when they can steal them out of the mailboxes.

Court records did not explain how personal information is obtained by the ring that allows them to order the new bank cards.

So far, 104 people have been targeted by this ring. It has centered most of its activity in the Pittsburgh area, as well as the borders of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

In their affidavit, police stated that there were three additional addresses in Peters that were also investigated.

Police believe there was a second suspect who shared a room with Slowden at Station Square’s Sheraton Pittsburgh hotel.

Slowden's bond was set by District Judge Mark Wilson at $25,000.

Federal prosecutors have requested that Slowden be held on a federal detainer, as well.

As most everyone knows, fraud is everywhere nowadays. We do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our increasingly complex passwords, but still criminals find a way around those protections.

These kinds of cases are different than many other criminal cases, because it’s often not obvious that the suspect has, indeed, committed the crime. Prosecutors, especially in this case, are out to prove the suspect’s guilt, and the laws are rigid and inflexible. It takes a strong attorney with a determination to succeed for a person to beat the charges.

There will be a lot of charges, too. For each of the bank cards and PIN numbers, Mr. Slowden will face a charge. If he stole 104 pieces of mail, that’s 104 charges. Since bank cards are mailed separately from PIN numbers, it doubles the number of pieces of mail and therefore the charges.

The biggest problem I think Slowden faces is that these are federal charges. Federal prosecutors are dogged in their determination to win. Too, federal prison terms tend to be far longer than those received from local and state courts, and the fines and accompanying fees much stiffer. For example, for each offense, Slowden faces up to 20 years in federal prison. Twenty years times 104 offenses equals a lifetime. He’ll likely serve them concurrently, but that’s still 20 of the best years of his life. Since he was defrauding a bank, he faces fines of up to $1,000,000 per offense. That’s $104,000,000. Not something he’ll ever be able to repay, even if he wins the lottery. These are the worst case scenarios, of course, but we need to take them into consideration when discussing the case.

That being said, Slowden’s cause is not a lost one. It is entirely possible to be successfully defended and win the case. If his lawyer can prove that Slowden did not know fraud was being committed, prosecutors can’t send him to jail for twenty years. There are other defenses, as well. What strategies the attorney uses will depend entirely on the details of the case, details that we don’t have at this time.

I say this often, I know … but, I hope he hires a good attorney!